Captain's overthinking matters? Politics? And now analytics? It's always something with the Ryder Cup!
We're still weeks away but you can already catch more than not-so-faint glimmers of that two seemingly grounded, sane, level-headed captains are going to bring their share of strangeness to the 2016 proceedings.
Davis Love, in discussing his eight qualifiers through The Barclays, revealed that he's got stat-geeks looking at the numbers to justify pairings. Max Adler says it's "arguable this year’s American lineup and pairings will be the most deeply premeditated ever."
“Patrick Reed suggested we pay closer attention to strokes gained tee-to-green,” Love said. In alternate-shot, for example, it could be possible to pair a player whose proximity to the hole with irons syncs with another’s putting percentages from those distances, and then overlay that data across the holes at Hazeltine National.
“Now instead of saying ‘OK, you two go play together,’ we can give players a reason they’re paired,” Love said. “We can say, ‘Hey, we ran the numbers and dissected the course and together you guys are unbeatable.’ Knowing why you’re playing with a guy can do so much to boost confidence.”
Hopefully they're bringing any of these numbers to seating assignments, the table tennis tournament or the captain's cart driving routes around Hazeltine.
Even more fun is what appears to be a disregard for the findings of the Task Force "Task Force" task force. They met after the last Ryder Cup and decided fall events should not count for points. Yet now Captain Love says he's giving weight to Justin Thomas's win last fall in Malaysia and now, he's not even believing the Ryder Cup points system validated by the Task Force "Task Force" task force.
Tim Rosaforte explains in this week's Golf World:
In this case, Love is willing to overlook the Mickelson edict of not fully counting fall tournaments in the wraparound schedule, instead giving consideration “to the big tournament he won in Malaysia.” Love also questions the analytics of how Thomas could enter the Barclays ranked just 25th in Ryder Cup points but 10th in the FedEx Cup standings.
So we're relying on analytics until we're not.
Meanwhile across the Atlantic, Darren Clarke was thought to have been leaning hard toward three veterans for his picks, including a surprise in Luke Donald. Ewan Murray reported that the Thomas Pieters win may have made this an impossible pick to make, and Brian Wacker has written a similar take, with Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer expected to edge out possible picks Russell Knox and Soren Kjeldsen, both in the points hunt until losing out last week.
Our friends at William Hill were so thrown by the Donald news that they stopped taking bets on the captain's picks to be announced Tuesday morning (U.S. viewers can see live on Morning Drive). Joel Beall reports.
Donald finished 21st on the world points list, behind the likes of Graeme McDowell, Francesco Molinari, Tyrrell Hatton and all of the above mentioned names under consideration.